The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

October 11, 2009

Marshall ‘D’ can’t bend

Mountaineers’ Devine will provide tougher test at Saturday’s Coal Bowl

By Gary Fauber — Marshall beat Tulane in part with a bend-but-don’t-break defense.

If the Thundering Herd bend in five days, Noel Devine could break them all by himself.

The fourth installment of the Friends of Coal Bowl is set for Saturday when West Virginia (4-1) hosts the Herd. Kickoff will be 3:30 p.m. and the game can be seen locally on WOAY-TV 4.

Marshall is 4-2 after Saturday’s 31-10 win at Tulane, although the stats from that game do little to suggest such an easy victory. The Green Wave had more total yards (404-323), converted on 11 of 17 third-down conversions and 2 of 3 on fourth down and dominated time of possession (33:52-26:08).

The Herd came up with a number of big plays on defense, however.

Strong safety Ashton Hall returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown after end Albert McClellan forced a fumble by Tulane’s Jeremy Williams. Marshall also made a goal-line stand, stopping the Wave on fourth-and-1 late in the second quarter.

Fifth-year Marshall coach Mark Snyder attributed Tulane’s ability to keep the ball to his team’s poor tackling.

“Our tackling needs to improve,” Snyder said after the game. “We did not tackle very well today. That’s the only thing I can be disappointed in today. The reason they could continue drives is because we weren’t tackling. We talk about it all the time. We’re not going to have finesse defensive backs out here. We were doing way too much ankle biting, and that will be addressed on Tuesday. We face a very good back next week.

“On the flip side of that, guys were hitting out there today. The front seven were hitting guys. We were able to come up with some turnovers.”

The Coal Bowl will feature the nation’s Nos. 2 and 3 receivers in the Herd’s Darius Marshall and WVU’s Noel Devine. Marshall was held below 100 yards — barely, at 98 — for the first time this season. His average took a bit of a hit, but he’s still at 147.4 (eight-tenths of a yard behind new leader Ryan Mathews of Fresno State).

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